Who killed Father Jerzy Popiełuszko?

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Who killed Father Jerzy Popiełuszko?
FOT.Anatol Chomicz/FORUM

Dignitaries of the Third Polish Republic have never wanted to explain all the facts concerning the tragic death of Fr. Jerzy. Let me only recall the dramatic circumstances surrounding prosecutor Andrzej Witkowski’s attempts: almost twice the day before bringing the indictment to court his inquiry into this case was taken away from him – says Tadeusz Płużański, the president of the “Łączka” foundation.


What was the Independent Group „D” of the Department IV of the Ministry of the Interior, also called “Death Commando”, and what kind of people did it recruit?


It was a criminal communist unit employing the biggest criminals and rascals of the “red regime”, in addition cooperating with the KGB. Its main task was murdering and repressing “subversive” Poles, who posed a threat to the authorities of the time, and destroying the Catholic Church in Poland.


The „Death Commando” consisted of people with no inhibitions, ready to torture and murder their victims in a “sophisticated” way. What’s worse they saw nothing wrong in their actions and did not repent of them.


We should also add that despite emphasizing the “independence” of that band of criminals they were actually controlled by people from the highest ranks of the communist government. The course of the Toruń trial is an example. The “red masters” shifted the full blame on to the red comrades: Piotrowski, Pękala, Chmielewski and Pietruszka, suggesting that they had acted on their own initiative.


But it is no secret that Wojciech Jaruzelski, Czesław Kiszczak and Władysław Ciastoń knew about their actions. I will say more – these comrades-generals would have never become the leaders of the communist dictatorship if such things had been out of their reach.


Of course they were perfectly aware of what was happening in the Polish People’s Republic and I can state it with full responsibility that they were exactly the people who inspired their subordinates from Group “D” to commit crimes.


The most famous one was killing Fr. Jerzy Popiełuszko in an exceptionally barbaric way…


That’s true. Although 33 years have passed since that tragedy we still don’t know the circumstances of the blessed martyr’s death. Despite the official “explanation” of the case during the Toruń trial doubts about it have multiplied in the past years.


The first one concerns the date of Fr. Jerzy Popiełuszko’s death. According to prosecutor Andrzej Witkowski, whose inquiry into the death of the “Solidarity” chaplain was taken away from him in so called independent Poland, Fr. Popiełuszko was not murdered on October 19th, 1984, but a few days later and some GRU officers took part in it.


The body of the killed itself, found on October 30th, 1984, is the most tragic evidence that for the communists persecuting him he was not a human being but a kind of thing, a bag that can be drowned with a rock attached to it.


Of course the men sentenced in the Toruń trial weren’t blameless. They had spent years destroying the Church, oppressing clergymen and organizing brutal crimes against Poles which were presented as actions of “unknown perpetrators” by the communist propaganda. It doesn’t change the fact that they were controlled by comrades-generals: Jaruzelski, Kiszczak and Ciastoń.


Apart from the names you mentioned I would include one more “distinguished comrade”, namely Jerzy Urban – the man responsible for bringing communist criminals under a protective umbrella. When one remembers his mean propaganda efforts, slandering communist murderers’ victims, it brings tears in one’s eyes…


I have always repeated that any legal settlement of communist crimes cannot be limited only to their direct perpetrators as then all the rest is passed over.


The crimes of communism are the heinous acts of the whole apparatus of the Polish People’s Republic led by Jaruzelski, Kiszczak and Urban. That latter has covered up and denied all the facts concerning Fr. Popiełuszko’s murder case up to this day and he has protected the perpetrators suggesting that it was the priest’s fault as he himself had “asked” for what happened to him.


Soon the National Public Tribunal (Społeczny Trybunał Narodowy) will take a stance on Jerzy Urban. I hope it will contribute – still in his earthly life – to the judgment and exemplary punishment of this communist criminal by the judiciary of the Polish Republic. Killing can be done in various ways – by brutal tortures, a shot in the back of the head but also by a judicial decision or criminal propaganda as Jerzy Urban did.


What was the aim of that whole Urban’s propaganda against Fr. Popiełuszko before he was murdered?


The basic aim was to intimidate, but the final one to liquidate the Catholic Church which communists considered one of their biggest enemies and tried to destroy by all means possible. This is why for many years they run smear campaigns against clergymen, including Father Jerzy.


The propaganda aimed at the Church was supposed to strike the faithful, too. Communists thought that thanks to threatening and murdering priests they would manage to undermine Poles’ faith and their patriotic conduct. How wrong they were!


Why is the murder of Fr. Jerzy Popiełuszko called “the founding murder of the Third Polish Republic” by many today?


First of all because that murder has actually not been judged. Despite the sentences that were passed during the Toruń trial Piotrowski and the rest of the killers soon were released from prison thanks to an amnesty and then had a career in “independent Poland”.


Secondly, as I have already mentioned before, for many years the murder of Father Jerzy was called a “private initiative” of Group “D” officers. Only a dozen or so years after the Toruń trial they started talking about it as a communist crime.


Thirdly the principals of Father Popiełuszko’s murderers have never been held responsible for their crimes, except for a few symbolic sentences.


Finally: dignitaries of the Third Polish Republic have never wanted to explain all the facts concerning the tragic death of Fr. Jerzy. Let me only recall the dramatic circumstances surrounding prosecutor Andrzej Witkowski’s attempts: almost twice the day before bringing the indictment to court his inquiry into this case was taken away from him. And prosecutor Witkowski was on the track of something fundamental – on the way to find out that behind the death of the “Solidarity” chaplain there had been an armed crime syndicate led by two comrades: Jaruzelski and Kiszczak. And the fact is that those red dictators that should be held responsible for that and other crimes of the Polish People’s Republic first of all.


Until the murder of Father Jerzy Popiełuszko is not solved, we will not be able to talk about a normal, independent Polish state but about Communist Poland all over again. Until the amnesty for the communist criminals agreed on at the Round Table, binding up to now, is not stopped, the martyr’s death of Fr. Jerzy will remain a blemish on our national identity.


At the moment the case of Fr. Popiełuszko’s death is being investigated by prosecutor Mieczysław Góra from the Bydgoszcz branch of the Institute of National Remembrance. Do you think that this time the case will be finished?


If there is no political will, in my opinion, the whole thing will be finished the same way as in case of the investigation carried by prosecutor Witkowski. It’s clear that there are still powerful forces in Poland which can block any struggle for the truth.


On the other hand it’s really odd that in 2017, after so many years of Andrzej Witkowski’s hard work a new prosecutor was appointed to this case. He must go through miles of files. Of course I don’t undermine prosecutor Góra’s work and commitment – I consider him an excellent specialist and I’m sure he will do his best so we can learn what happened in October 1984. But it doesn’t change the fact that a question arises: why for the third time the case was not given to prosecutor Witkowski who had already been about to close the case twice?

It looks like deliberate hindering, not to say – covering up the death of Fr. Jerzy: “let all the perpetrators and witnesses die so the whole case can be judged by historians.” No! No! That’s the wrong way!


Let’s keep our fingers crossed for prosecutor Góra, but I will repeat: it shouldn’t look like this at all!


Father Jerzy wasn’t the last clergyman murdered by communists. In January 1989 while the Round Table talks were in full swing the red regime killed Fr. Stanisław Suchowolec and Fr. Stefan Niedzielak. Then in July 1989, already after the “free election” of June 4th, Fr. Sylwester Zych was tortured to death. Why?


Because communists never forbade anyone, including priests. All the three priests killed in 1989 had been indomitable clergymen and had fought for a free, Catholic homeland.


Father Niedzielak was murdered for his activity in the AK (Home Army), supporting the WiN (Freedom and Independence) and telling the truth about people murdered by the communist regime.


Father Suchowolec died because he had regularly celebrated Mass for the homeland.

Father Zych was another patriot and a full-blooded anti-communist this is why it was “necessary” to kill him.


None of these cases have ever been solved but I believe that finally it may change and the principals and “unknown perpetrators” will be summoned to appear at court. It is never too late for such things as it is a duty of the Polish state.


Thank you for the interview. 


Tomasz D. Kolanek

Translation: jjf

DATA: 2018-01-03 11:07
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